Monday, February 25, 2008

My Eh-Vegas recap

I am a total suburbanite. Only the promise of a poker blogger gathering could summon me to the big bad city.

Banky and I left with plenty of time to spare...although we didn’t count on hellish traffic that started right when we exited the highway, and the political demonstrations near Astin's place impeding our ability to easily find a parking spot...but we did find a spot a couple of blocks away, and made it just a little late.

Not being the most socially adept with ‘new’ people – I was feeling the butterflies. When we walked into the lobby and dialed Astin's buzz code, I wasn’t sure if we should say our real names, or “PokerTart and Banky” – we went with real names...there was a slight pause from Astin, and then we were buzzed in. We got up to the apartment door and heard loud music. We knocked a couple times and got no answer. We started to wonder if we got the apartment number wrong…then we heard chanting…


Ok, right place...we just have to knock louder. 3rd time did the trick, and we were greeted by a smiling (and bleeding) Astin. We walked in to see a rousing game of Guitar Hero in progress. We got hugs from Kat, Bam-Bam, Pebbles, DonKaaaaaa, Carson and the rest of the Tuckfards.

The butterflies started to fade.

We soon met IronGirl and Joanada. We didn’t officially introduce ourselves to Al, Riggs, and CK until later (during and after dinner)...Astin’s living room was packed full of folks playing/watching Guitar Hero, so there wasn’t a good moment (and I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to just walking up and introducing myself).

Dinner was served not to long after we arrived, and it was awesome. The appetizer and dessert were my faves though. I could have eaten bowls of both. In fact, I helped myself to 2 servings of dessert. It goes against my nature to allow ice-cream, especially home-made deliciousness, to go uneaten. And by then, I was ready for a nap. But, no nap was to be had. Instead we walked 345,897,987km to the poker game. Ok, maybe that was a slight exaggeration. It felt long though, because I was blindly following Kat & Astin.

After a quick stop into the liquor store, we were up in the club. It was bigger than I thought it would be – but emptier. I guess Saturday is slow?

Soon we were into the game. And it was not at ALL like I expected! These bloggers play toight! I guess I’m too used to Woody’s rebuy madness...I didn’t know how to play against real players who know how to play.

I think Banky had the same problem. There were only 3 rebuys, 2 of which were from us. Heh.

Needless to say, I won the “first person to rebuy” prize. I’ll post pics of my well-earned prize later.

I did manage to make the final table, but busted when my all-in was called by pocket 3s. I guess he put my range 2s? I had J10, the flop brought a Jack in the door, and then a 3 right after. Booooo.

I’ll let Kat tell the rest of the final table story...I’m sure she’s dying to!

After watching the final table action for awhile, a 1/2 game started up. Banky and I played with Astin, Astin’s buddy, some club people, and Riggs, Joanada, and Kat joined later.

None of the other bloggers joined the cash game...the party seemed to end after the tourney finished and almost everyone left. I was bummed – not because they didn’t join the game, but because I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with all of them.

The cash game ended when one of the club players left. It was pretty late and my back had been bothering me for hours. I hated to leave (Banky and I leaving essentially busted up the game), but I was too tired and sore to keep going. I was down a little in cash, but up a LOT in hugs.

It’s hard to put into words what it was like hanging out with these folks. I can only imagine what it would be like in Vegas, where the drinks flow freely, and there’s no worry of getting home.

Some of my highlights:

Seeing the Tuckfards again, and getting lots of hugs from Bam-Bam and Pebbles.

Spending quality girl-time at the poker table with CK, Joanada, Pebbles, IG, and Kat. In my normal poker travels, it’s testosterone city. It was awesome to play with these smart and funny chicks.

“I am going to beat you WITH your kid, if you don’t keep him away from my daughter”
- Riggs, telling the story of meeting the father of his 7 year old daughter’s boyfriend.

Watching Carson SMOKE Guitar Hero.

“They must have known you’re American. We have universal health-care in Canada”
- Banky, explaining to Riggs that he got double-screwed by his stripper’s sob-story about needing money for surgery for a kid with no feet.

Meeting Astin. I now have a girl crush on what has to be one of Toronto’s most eligible bachelors. Cute, cooks, and made me laugh repeatedly at the poker table. (Even after crushing me with his QQ v my JJ).

- CK. No other explanation needed.

Meeting Al. He was much more subdued that I was expecting. But it was great to finally meet someone I’d been reading for so long. Next time, Al, once this baby is born...we’re doing SoCo shots together!

There were many more moments, but most too hard to explain. All there is left to say is THANK YOU, to the bloggers who traveled from near and far, to Astin for hosting a terrific dinner, and to Kat for herding us poker-cats together for a wonderful time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's here!

A long, shitty week at work ended with me nearly comatose by 7pm last night, so the beginning of Eh-Vegas festivites were out of the question for me....but I'm SO excited for tonight.

I think a nap might be in order though. I get the feeling I'll need to be well rested!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm a bitch on Mondays

I know it’s Tuesday, but it feels like Monday. And the older I get, the more I hate Mondays.


I tried to arrange a poker game Saturday night, but the notice was too short, and no one could make it. So Banky and I went to another game. I was originally hesitant because I was worried about the weather – but the skies were blue, so we went for it.

I had a great first half of the game. The hand of the night was when the blinds were 100/200 with a 25 ante. Player A in mid-position raises to 300. I have pocket aces and smooth call from the button. Player B in the small blind re-raises to 900, and the Player A goes all-in. I nearly creamed my jeans and was a little too enthusiastic with my all-in. Luckily, the Player B couldn’t bring himself to throw away his Kings and called. Player A had Queens. So the three hands were Queens, Kings and Aces. Total cooler.

I nearly died when a Queen fell on the flop, but an Ace on the turn won me the pot (and I took out both players at once). I then had a h-u-g-e stack. Someone said something about knowing who was going to win the game….but I knew better. I said “I’ve lost better leads than this”. And true to form, I bubbled.


The lesson I learned from Saturdays game was when a Lucksack is running hot, there’s nothing you can do.

I raise with AQ, Lucksack says “this is a bad call” and calls. Ace hits on the flop, I bet, Lucksack calls. Turn brings 3rd flush card, I bet, Lucksack goes all-in. I fold, he shows his flush. He called with 2c3c.

Same guy, later.

I raise with Aces. Lucksack calls. Flop brings two of one suit. I bet the pot. Lucksack thinks long and hard, then calls. Turn brings 3rd flush card. I bet, Lucksack goes all-in. I tank (one of my aces matches the flush), but ultimately fold. Lucksack shows the 10s7s.

What can you do?

And it wasn’t just against me. It was against everyone. The guy could not miss a flop. Truth be told, I want him to call with his shitty flush cards…and it’s nights like Saturday that encourage him to play like a donkey. I just wish I had managed to pull out a cash rather than a bubble.

After those hands, my stack was normal, and then I let them get eaten by the blinds. I should have been more aggressive, but I honestly think that I lost my heart after having such a big lead, and losing big hands in such a crappy way. At least I found the fortitude to make the right decisions (and thankfully the Lucksack confirmed my decisions each and every time by showing his made hands).

I played a ton of online poker this weekend – and ended up exactly where I started…up 2 buy-ins, down two buy-ins, up a buy-in, down a bunch of tourneys. Blah.

In good news – I felt the baby kick this weekend. That was wicked.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Am I better because of poker? Part 5: Friendship + a little pimpage.

In this look at how poker has impacted my life, I’ll be covering the following topics:
- Finances
- Career
- Health
- Marriage
- Friendship

Welcome to Part 5: Friendship

Writing this series of posts has taken longer than I expected – and truth be told, I’ve been avoiding this last entry like the plague. Not because of the poker part, but because of the friendship part. I’m afraid that to look at the impact poker has had on friendship in my life, I’ll have to take an honest look at friendship before poker, and I’m not sure I’m emotionally ready for that.

But, I want to finish the series because not finishing it has held me from posting anything else of consequence, so here goes…

I’m a friendly person. I’m cheerful, I’m optimistic, I laugh easily and enjoy making others laugh. I feel like I’m likable, and make good company. Hell, I’d be friends with me. But all my life, I’ve had very few friends.

When I was very young, my parents had a close group of friends – they all had children in two waves; the first wave (which contained my older sister) was all girls. The second wave, 4 years later, contained me….and a bunch of boys. My first friend was David. Because our parents were best friends, we were joined at the hips as babies, and toddlers, and very young children. We did everything together….until we entered the first grade. He ran off with the boys, and I was left with the Stephanies and Jennifers of my age-group who didn’t seem to get me. I wasn’t a tom-boy, but I wasn’t a girly-girl either. Even at that age I was a plain-Jane bookworm, and I didn’t seem to fit in with anyone. You see, I didn’t really know how to socialize with girls. The older girls in my parents’ extended family wanted nothing to do with me (they were too old to hang out with a ‘baby’), so I either hung with the boys, or as I grew older and was no longer welcome there (ewww! girls are gross!), I hung with the adults, or, more often than not, a book.

What’s odd, is that I didn’t seem to have a problem socializing in a group – but I never made that one-on-one connection with anyone. I never had a ‘best friend’ that the girls around me all seemed to have.

I came close in the 4th grade – with Christie, who was a year older than me. We were in a 4/5 split and became close. We used to ride bikes, go swimming, and watch scary movies (Children of the Corn was our favourite). But then the school year came to an end. Christie was going to the Junior High, and told me that we couldn’t be friends anymore, because she wanted to be with a cool group at school. And I wasn’t cool. I was devastated. 3 years later I was walking home from school one day and passed Christie and one of her cool friends. As I walked by, she moo’d like a cow. Mean Girls indeed.

Junior High and High School were much the same story. I was fine in groups, always had someone to each lunch with, or play Echure with in the cafeteria, and had a couple of close friends, but was never the best friend. The closest I came was Laura – who I am still friends with to this day. However, there were three of us who hung out together, Laura and Leanne were ‘best-friends’, while I was a welcome, but very clear, first runner-up. Even now, as adults that dynamic exists, Leanne was Laura’s maid of honour, Laura will be the same in Leanne’s in her upcoming wedding.

I’m right there with the bridal showers & bachelorette parties…but haven’t quite reached BFF status. When it came down to it – in all situations, I was the one passed over.

Post-high school was all about teh interweb for me. Again, I found lots of friends – and one, truly best friend in Tonya. She and I are still wonderfully close. Except, that is, for proximity. She lived in Florida when I met her, moved to Tennessee for university, and now lives in Maryland. We stood up for each other in our weddings. She is the funniest, most loving, and dearest friend to me. Except we see each other once a year, at most, and communication (besides keeping tabs via personal blogs), is inconsistent. I know if she lived closer, we’d see each other all the time. But distance has not been kind to our friendship.

And thus lies my biggest problem - me. Lest you think this post is all ‘woe is me’. I know the reason I don’t have a bustling social calendar is my own social ineptitude! I am a terrible friend. I don’t call. I rarely email. I make no real efforts to foster a new friendship or to keep one alive.

I’ve never had trouble making “situational’ friends. If I see someone frequently, we become quite friendly. But as soon as that regular contact dies…it’s out of sight, out of mind. Well, not truly out of mind – I frequently think of those lost relationships, but don’t make the effort to reach out.

I’m not sure what my problem is. Maybe early rejection by peers makes me hesitant to put myself out there. Whatever the case. I can literally count on 1 hand the number of people I consider close to me. And that includes Banky (who, truly is my best friend and makes me happy every single day.)

So, happy, gregarious friendless loser meets poker. What happens then?

Well, I can easily say that poker has expanded my circle of friends. Poker has also expanded my horizons, and introduced me to wonderful people from many walks of life. I’ve slung chips and shared laughs with sports agents, bankers, coffee truck drivers, architectural students, used car salesmen, teachers, engineers, retail clerks, and computer technicians. I've socialized (both at and away from the felt), with people I never would have met otherwise.

It's strange, because I've become friends with people I regularly try to win money from. But there’s a camaraderie, and a sense of competition that draws us together.

Poker blogging has introduced me to another whole set of IFF’s (and some now visible ones). I’ve been happily amazed that there are people who regularly read my blog, and I can feel the beginnings of real friendships blooming. Through my writing, and reading of their writing, there’s a connection that feels very real.

And there are many others who touched me deeply when I shared some sad news early in the summer. Their simple comments meant more than could be imagined. While many of those commenters (and those who commented on our recent good news) aren’t close friends (at least not yet) – I felt embraced by a community at large. And that, my dears, is what poker has given me – a sense of belonging. And for a girl in a corner with a book, that’s pretty awesome.


Thanks for reading this self-indulgent series of posts. I did it more for me than for anyone…but I hope you learned a little more about me in the process.

And now, to read some REAL writing, head on over to Truckin’…

February 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 2
Benson and Hedges by Paul McGuire I looked at her arms and wrists. She didn't appear to be a cutter, but she listened to a lot of angry indie chick rock and idolized Ani DiFranco. Her sullenness always bothered me. I wanted to try to talk to her, but it was not easy. She used to sit in her room and drink alone... More

2. Declaration of Independence and Love by Betty Underground It felt like I had stopped breathing for minutes as he brushed his lips across mine, without touching them. Dusting them like feathers. My head grew light as he teased me. I was frozen. Suffocated by desire... More

3. The Big Empty by Johnny Hughes Ever time I see Dowd, he gets shorter. Used to be taller than me. They say he puts a drop of honey on everything he eats, and he gets Chinese herbs from a chiropractor... More

4. Squirrel Hunting with Pudddin' Tooth by Clay Champlin I was merely a hunter trying to kill him before he made it home. Without a word I pointed at the little grey dot bounding across the forest floor. Puddin' Tooth sprung to his feet, and we were off tracking the beast... More

5. Dragon Slayers and the Angry Villagers by Mini Waffles J and A heard about a war and it was about the angry villagers and the Charlyaters but the angry villagers had to fight to keep their lands. Then they signed up... More

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Thank you Jordin Sparks!

I made my very first Superbowl related bet at a party on Sunday. I took the over on the length of the U.S. national anthem. Ship it!

If only all sports betting was as easy as this. But I know nothing about sports, and I’m no Pauly – so I’ll stick to poker.

I’ve been playing a lot of SHL on FullTilt lately. I made a killing at the 1/2 tables – experimented higher, and ultimately have had to come back down. I don’t know if it was variance, or my own ineptitude, but after a few lost buyins I decided I was above my pain threshold.

Overall, it’s a pretty stress-free game, which is right up my alley these days. It also requires patience, and that I pay attention…both skills that I need to work on.

There was poker at the Superbowl party – and Banky and I cleaned up. The first two were just short SNGs before everyone got there. Top 2 paid, and in the first we both busted out…in the second I took second. Then we played two rebuy games. Again, top two spots paid, and both times, it ended up with he and I as the final two. Everyone expected us to chop when it got down to us (which we did – the first time, because everyone was waiting to start a a second game, and the second time because I was exhausted and wanted to go home). It kind of bugs me that everyone assumes we’ll just chop because we’re married. While we do pool our bankroll, we track all our play separately…and we are very competitive – I want to WIN, not chop. Oh well.

Truth be told, I didn’t even want to play the second game – but I didn’t just want to take the money and run after the first game ended, so I figured we’d ‘donate’ back some money and then we could leave when we busted. Um. Nope…we took it down. I wonder if we’ll get invited back.

At least they can’t accuse us of taking advantage of drunks. I may have been sober, but true to form, Banky drank for two. At one point, the host’s wife even commented “I’ve never seen someone so eager to take shots. He even says ‘yes, please’ when I offer them”. That’s my Banky.